In the far northern part of South-Africa, the leadership at Mercurius Motors Limpopo has just changed hands with Johannes Pheiffer taking over at the helm as Regional Dealer Principal.
He will be looking after the Cargo Group’s (part of Motus) brands in Polokwane and Tzaneen.
The group’s brand names in both towns, or city in the case of Polokwane, include Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Fiat, Jeep and Alfa Romeo.
Dealerfloor spoke to Johannes about the new challenge looking after such a diverse number of brands located in two areas about a 100 km apart.
“Mercurius Polokwane and Tzaneen are part of the Motus Group (previously Imperial) and we have been doing business in Polokwane for the past 25 years and 15 years in neighbouring Tzaneen.
“We are proud to say that during the last five years, we have accumulated various awards such as winner of the 2017 MB Cars Medium Category Dealer of the Year; 2018 MB Cars Medium Category Dealer of the Year; 2018 ABSA Golden Partner Award; 2019 MB Vans Agent of the Year and 2019 Mercedes-Benz Finance Dealer of the Year.”
Asked about the economy in Polokwane and the impact of the now part of our daily life: COVID19, Johannes says the impact of the pandemic was severe on basically all businesses.
“We are fortunate and busy reclaiming our successes and we are in fact surpassing our budget goals at this stage. We had to be creative regarding the brand names we are selling to get back in the saddle again so to speak,” he says.
With a premium brand like Mercedes-Benz at the core of your business as well as other more upmarket and expensive brands like Alfa Romeo, did these brands take a more serious knock than the more affordable one’s?
“Yes, I think the impact was more severe than with the others, but our range of products ensured that we had a lot to offer across the spectrum and this was supported by the good name and reputation of Mercurous Motors in our region,” he reckons.
How do you sell a Merc to a potential client? Has the client not already made up his/her mind or do you still need to market the vehicle to that person?
“In cases with vehicles like Mercedes-Benz, the exclusivity and class of the vehicle have already done a lot of the talking. However, like with any other product out there, you still need top-notch marketing to compete with your opposition.”
So, even buyers of more expensive and exclusive vehicles are also counting their pennies?
“That expression is so true across the spectrum no matter what they are buying.”
Asked about his career, Johannes states that he has been involved with Cargo and Mercurius for the last 22 years of his life.
“I started my apprenticeship in 1998 at the then Cargo Motors Germiston and qualified as a Motor Technician. I became the foreman in 2003 and was transferred to Cargo Motors Edenvale as a Service Adviser until 2005.
“From there I went to Cargo M2 City as Workshop Manager and was appointed as Service Manager in 2007. In 2009, I was transferred to Mercurius Polokwane as Group Manager After-sales Service for both dealerships in Polokwane and Tzaneen and now I am taking over the reins.”
And what is your management style?
“In general, I am focused on the development of leadership, the diversity of our client base and client satisfaction, all connected to good and solid business growth,” he says.
What about hobbies and sport?
“I love motorsport, cricket (which I played) and rugby. For the rest, I enjoy the outdoors and exploring our beautiful surroundings with my family.”
Managing a dealership as well as a satellite dealership in another province is not an easy task, but this is exactly what Jose Menezes has been doing since August last year.
Volvo Trucks South Africa has opened a new R130 million dealership facility in Durban to support the growth of the brand’s vehicle parc in the region.
Servicing and maintaining a vehicle are necessary but can often be viewed as a grudge purchase.